Culture

Movie review: “We’re the Millers”

millers

We're the Millers

dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber

Release Date: Aug 07, 13

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We’re the Millers might not be a Happy Madison production, but it has all the hallmarks of the Sandler Factory of Comedy. There are jokes about tarantula-bitten testicles, lecherously homosexual foreigners, wacky Midwestern squares, and a primary cast of deeply unlikable borderline-sociopaths who’re expected to stand in as audience identification points. And most of all, We’re the Millers drops to its absolute worst when it tries to shoehorn in ham-fisted revelations about the importance of a cohesive nuclear family, even as it goes to that well and the one full of incest jokes at the same time.

David Clark (Jason Sudekis) is a n’er-do-well and small-time pot dealer whose only friend is Kenny (Wil Poulter), the offbeat kid who lives by himself on the ground floor of their apartment building. David’s long-standing crush on stripper-next-door Rose (Jennifer Aniston) goes unrequited because of her predominant contempt for him, and his boss (Ed Helms) drops a bomb on his slacker lifestyle when he commissions David to run a sizable shipment of weed across the Mexican border, weed stolen from a high-level drug lord (Tomer Sisely). To do this, David hires Kenny and Rose, as well as the homeless, couch-surfing Casey (Emma Roberts) to pose as his square, Midwestern family in order to pass by the authorities unnoticed. (I’m not the type of film critic to work rants about white privilege into a review most of the time, but Jesus, the entitlement of this premise.) Hijinks ensue, most of which involve the foursome spewing invective at one another or at the people they meet in their travels.

The most depressing thing about watching We’re the Millers is that there’s a decent film in there somewhere. Sudekis and Aniston manage good chemistry as an endlessly bickering fake couple who start to evolve into a playfully bickering real couple, and Poulter goes for broke every time the camera is focused on him. The film’s heart is also in the right place when it gets into the dynamics of assumed families taking the place of the ones people are born into, but it’s ultimately far more interested in cruelly mocking every single person audiences have paid to see.

For all of Hollywood’s newfound interest in pushing Aniston as a sex symbol, the film takes no shortage of great pains to establish her as a “cheap stripper” at every turn, despite her actual mid-movie striptease making for one of the truly sexiest movie moments of the year. Kenny in particular gets the short end; while he’s just an awkward virgin and nowhere near as flawed as anybody else who appears onscreen, this apparently renders him worthy of the treatment usually reserved for the mentally or physically handicapped in mediocre R-rated comedies like this one. Even extended cameos from pros like Kathryn Hahn and Nick Offerman can’t save We’re the Millers from being less the Bad Santa that it clearly fancies itself and more the disposable late-summer repository of overcooked gags that it truly is.